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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Mary Butler to Jonathan Swift - 5


APRIL 18, 1720.

YOU would have great reason to be angry with me, if my long silence had been occasioned by any thing but my care of you; for having no safe hand to send by till now, I would not write, for fear it might be construed a sort of treason (misprision at least) for you to receive a letter from one half of a proscribed man. I inquire of every body I see, that I imagine has either seen you or heard from you, how you have your health; for wealth and happiness I do not suppose you abound in; for it is hard to meet with either in the country you are in, and be honest as you are. I thank God our parliament has taken them to task, and finding how ill a use they made of their judicature when they had it, have thought it not fit to trust them with it any longer[1]. I hope the next thing will be to tax Ireland from hence, and then no more opportunities for bills of attainder, which is very happy; for else young Hopeful[2] might have been in danger. They were so good and obedient to the powers above, that whether there were reason or not, or (as prince Butler said,) crime or no crime, the man was condemned, and a price set upon his head.

I want much to hear what you think of Great Britain; for all our relations here want much to see you, where are strange changes every day. You remember, and so do I, when the South Sea was said to be my lord Oxford's brat, and must be starved at nurse. Now the king has adopted it, and calls it his beloved child; though, perhaps, you may say, if he loves it no better than his son, it may not be saying much: but he loves it as well as he does the duchess of Kendal[3], and that is saying a good deal. I wish it may thrive, for many of my friends are deep in it: I wish you were so too. I believe, by this time, you are very sorry I have met with an opportunity of troubling you with this scrawl; but the strong must bear with the infirmities of the weak; and therefore, brother, I hope you will pardon the impertinences of your poor sister, whose brain may be reasonably thought turned with all she has met with. But nothing will hinder her from being, as long as she lives, most sincerely your very humble servant, and faithful friend,

  1. The house of peers in Ireland having transmitted to king George I a long representation, setting forth their right to the final judicature of causes in that kingdom, the house of lords in England resolved, on the eighth of January 1719-20, on the contrary, that the barons of the Exchequer in Ireland had acted, in the affair of Annesley and Sherlock, with courage, according to law, in support of his majesty's prerogative, and with fidelity to the crown of Great Britain; and a bill was soon after brought in, for the better securing the dependency of the kingdom of Ireland upon the crown of Great Britain.
  2. The duchess seems to mean the prince of Wales, afterward king George II, then upon ill terms with his father and his father's ministers.
  3. Erengard Melesina Schuylenberg, baroness of Schuylenberg in Germany. She was created duchess of Kendal by king George I, on the thirtieth of April 1719.